We tend to associate with others who share similar traits and interests – this is quite normal; so if you enjoy smoking marijuana then you likely know other people who also enjoy smoking marijuana.
Social comparison: One way that we evaluate the appropriateness of any behavior is by comparing it to the behaviors of the people around us.
So if a lot of people you know smoke marijuana then it probably seems like a normal thing to do and if some people around you smoke more than you do then it probably makes you feel less concerned about your own use.
- When you see others around you smoking this serves to normalize your own habits
- When you observe others around you smoking more than you do, this serves to minimize concerns you might have about the consequences of your own habit
- When a lot of people you know smoke marijuana you may assume that your habit is in a moderate range, compared to most other Americans
What can happen then, if you’re not careful, is that social comparison can give you a skewed perception about what’s really ‘normal’.
So when it comes to drug and alcohol use, looking to the people around you to find what’s normal isn’t always a very effective strategy.
Therefore, instead of comparing with people closest to you… how about seeing how your marijuana habit stacks up against American averages instead?
American Marijuana Habits – Average Frequency of Use
According to SAMHSA, compared to all Americans over the age of 12, if you smoked:
- Once in the past month, you are in the 94th percentile (you smoked more frequently than 94% of Americans)
- 2 or 3 days in the past month you are in the 95th percentile
- 4 to 7 days in the past month you are in the 96th percentile
- 8 to 14 days in the past month you are in the 97th percentile
- 15 to 24 days in the past month you are in the 98th percentile
- 25 or more days in the past month you are in the 99th percentile1
Of course, people can and do use marijuana without becoming substance abusers or substance dependent, so even if you smoke more frequently than 99% of Americans this does not, in itself, indicate a problem requiring a solution.
However, if you worry that you’re smoking more often than you should, you’ve noticed negative consequences from your habit and you’re having a hard time cutting down or quitting on your own, then you may want to investigate how addiction treatment can help.
Page last updated Dec 11, 2012